Scrawled Filefish

The scrawled filefish can stand its primary dorsal fin erect to lodge itself into a crack or crevice of a reef. This feature now is used partially as a defense mechanism, making it difficult for predators to remove the filefish to eat it.


  • This scrawled filefish has a body coloring from an olive-brown to a pale gray. It has blue lines and dots that are irregularly distributed over its body. Juveniles are yellowish.
  • It also has a pronounced, tube-like mouth at the end of its snout.

Fun Facts

  • Years ago, fishermen used filefish skin to light matches because the skin is so rough.
  • A filefish will sometimes float in a vertical position to blend in to blades of seagrass and coral whips.
  • Most species of filefishes are able to change their color to closely match their surroundings and are fairly secretive.
  • The scrawled filefish is also known as the scribbled filefish.

CLASS: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
ORDER: Tetraodontiformes (cowfishes, filefishes, leatherjackets, puffers, triggerfishes, and trunkfishes)
FAMILY: Monacanthidae (filefishes)
GENUS/SPECIES: Aluterus scriptus

Size: Average 1–2.5 ft (0.3–0.8 m)
Depth: 10-400 ft (4–120 m)
Diet: Seagrasses, hydrozoans, gorgonians, and tunicates
Habitat: Coastal waters of Western Atlantic, Eastern Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Western Indo-Pacific